The sole survivor of post-war Germany’s deadliest neo-Nazi terror cell was on Wednesday sentenced to life in prison for the murder of 10 people in a seven-year campaign of shootings and nail bombings across Germany.
Beate Zschaepe, 43, of far-right group National Socialist Underground (NSU), was convicted after a five-year trial over the deaths of nine migrants between 2000 and 2006, and the killing of a woman police officer in 2007.
Eight of the victims were men of Turkish origin, one man was Greek. The verdict was handed down at a court in Munich, the Telegraph reported.
She was also found guilty of a series of nail bombings which targeted immigrant communities, including one in Cologne in 2004 in which 22 people were injured.
The court found that Zschaepe was a fully active member of the NSU, a secretive three-person terror cell whose existence was only discovered after the other two members and her former lovers, Uwe Boehnhardt and Uwe Mundlos, died in a suspected suicide pact in 2011.
They left behind a video confessing their crimes that led police to begin investigating the group in connection with the murders. The trio’s white supremacist group NSU also carried out 15 bank robberies.
Lawyers for the woman earlier argued that she was not involved in the murders. Later, she admitted helping the two men but claimed she knew nothing of the killings.
The court rejected her claims and found she was fully complicit in the group’s campaign of shootings and bombings. The killings had “Nazi racist motives” and were designed to spread “fear and insecurity” among immigrant communities, the judge found.
The trial was one of the longest in German history and one of the most scandalous as evidence emerged that police had failed to investigate right-wing motives in several of the murder cases.
Campaigners and lawyers for the victims’ relatives accused German authorities of covering up the size and influence of the NSU, which operated in secret for almost 14 years. They claimed the group even had informants in the German security services.
Four others — Ralf Wohlleben, Carsten S., Holger Gerlach and Andre Eminger were found guilty of lesser offences of aiding the terror cell.
The critics argued the trial had left unanswered questions over how much German intelligence knew about the NSU.